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Friendsday Night and an IZZE® Spicy Georgia Peach Cocktail

Instead of going out to a restaurant to see each other, my friends and I have made it a habit to have at least one to two gatherings at my place a month, now lovingly called “Friendsday Night”. We all make an effort to find time in our busy schedules, meet up for dinner, drinks and a very competitive game of cards. Every gathering has a few requirements: good food, great drinks, and a ton of laughs. It’s become a time I cherish deeply, where we all take the time away from our phones to talk with one another, catch up and unwind.

Being the chef of the group I am usually in charge of the menu. I hit up the weekly farmer’s market and create my menu off of what I find. I especially love finding seasonal fruits at the markets and incorporating them into my cocktail recipes.

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Living in Los Angeles, my group of friends is pretty health conscious. We really take advantage of the fresh produce available to us and naturally try and avoid anything with fake sugars, chemicals or additives. I am all about leaving my guests full, happy and healthy.

I have been looking for a great beverage to mix our cocktails with. I tried a bunch of natural sodas and juices, but I found either their flavors to fall flat or be completely overwhelming and “fake” tasting. I recently was introduced to IZZE®, an all natural, sparkling juice drink. IZZE® comes in several natural flavors, and after trying them I was inspired to play around a bit with some cocktail recipes. I was blown away with how accurate each flavor was. They didn’t taste like “fake” juice flavors. The peach tasted just like a peach, the grapefruit was bright, like I just bit into one for breakfast, the mandarin tasted like a sparkling cup of fresh juice. IZZE® on its own is delicious, which makes it the perfect backdrop for a killer cocktail.

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IZZE® beverages have been making an appearance almost every Friendsday Night. Each week there is a new flavor and a new cocktail.

I wanted to share my favorite IZZE® cocktail on my blog. I like to call it the “Spicy Georgia Peach”. The farmer’s market is finally starting to carry stone fruits, so I thought it would be the perfect accompaniment to IZZE® Sparkling Peach beverage. I caramelize some nectarines halves in coconut oil until they are nice and toasty. (It tastes kind of like a peach pie when you do this!) With any cocktail I LOVE to pair a little sweet with something tangy and something SPICY! I paired that sweet, delicious caramelized nectarine with some Serrano chili and lots of lime juice. I muddled it all together and added my favorite libation tequila and topped it all off with IZZE® Sparkling Peach.

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Fruity and a touch of sweetness at first, then that spiciness follows and hits you right in the back of the throat. If a sassy Georgia Peach was personified in a drink this would be it.

Friendsday Night has become my favorite night of the week. I hope it inspires you to throw one of your own. Here are a few tips to throw an AWESOME Friendsday Night of your own.

  • Pick a menu that’s simple to make and easy to clean up. I love one pot meals like a yummy veggie lasagna, roasted chicken, roasted salmon or healthy enchiladas. Serve it with a big ol’ salad and call it a night!
  • Have one of the guests bring a dessert.
  • Pick out an awesome playlist. Here is one of mine that I made that I love. https://open.spotify.com/user/124097350/playlist/22keSM1Z64fr50Ms8QBqM8
  • Take the time to really connect with your friends. Have one person be the designated picture taker, that way people aren’t tempted to grab their phones every 5 minutes.
  • I always think of 5 questions to ask the table, they have to be different than the night before. You will be amazed at what you find out about your friends!
  • Bust out a board game or a deck of cards after dinner. It always makes for a barrel of laughs.
  • Bring IZZE®, with or without booze this stuff is great to sip on all night.

IZZE® Spicy Georgia Peach

(Makes 4 cocktails)
  • 2 ripe nectarines, sliced in half, pits removed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 6 ounces silver tequila
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime (about one lime)
  • ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 bottles IZZE® Sparkling Peach

  1. In a medium skillet, over medium high heat, melt coconut oil. Place nectarine halves, flesh side down, into the skillet and let it cook for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the nectarines and set aside.
  2. Take two caramelized nectarine halves and chop them into quarters. Take the other two halves and slice them into thin slices. Set the sliced ones aside for garnish later.
  3. Place the chopped ones into a cocktail shaker. Squeeze the juice of one lime in, and then toss the remains of the lime into the cocktail shaker, followed by the jalapeno. With a muddler, muddle all the fruit together, until the nectarines break down.
  4. Next add tequila, and mix to combine. Add about ½ of an IZZE® Sparkling Peach beverage and stir to combine.
  5. Fill four cocktail glasses up with ice. Place a few slices of caramelized nectarine into each glass, reserving 4 slices for garnish.
  6. Carefully strain the liquids evenly into four glasses filled with ice. Top each glass with move IZZE® Sparkling Peach and garnish with a fresh lime wedge and a slice of nectarine.

 

“Disclosure: This post was sponsored by IZZE®  through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about IZZE®, all opinions are my own.”

 


Dinner Party for under $30 and A Night of 1000 Dinners

“140 million children have lost one or both parents. For every three months spent in an orphanage, a child loses one month of developmental skills. Worldwide Orphans brings play, education, health and psychosocial development to orphans and vulnerable children through our programs focused on attachment, early intervention, healthcare and the arts. We work closely with communities to build capacity and raise awareness of the critical importance of play to help address the effects of trauma in children.”

– Worldwide Orphans

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Recently, I have been fortunate enough to get involved with an incredible charity called Worldwide Orphans and this week I am participating in their “Night of 1000 dinners” to help raise awareness and funds for orphans and at risk children. Worldwide Orphans is an incredible organization that was introduced to me by my friend Connie Britton, who’s giant heart for others and dedication to making the world a better place inspires me everyday. When she mentioned the idea of Night of a 1000 dinners, I jumped at the opportunity.

The idea is simple. Throw a party, start the conversation, and raise awareness. I believe nothing brings people together like breaking bread at a table, and it’s even better when it’s for a good cause. Food is the powerful language of the world and can be used to gather people in a way that allows us all to feel a part of a community and more importantly, loved. It’s important to share that love with others and that’s why the Night of a 1000 dinners is so important to me.

Too often we take for granted the love that we receive everyday, especially the love that we get from a parent. I can’t imagine going through life not knowing the sweet loving touch of my mother’s hand when I was sad, or my dad’s giant bear hugs whenever I won a basketball game. These kids don’t have that. I believe it’s everyone’s right to know that they are loved by someone, anyone, and why can’t that someone be us? We live in a time where it’s easy to get lost in our own worlds, we are too busy for our own good, and we often don’t make the time for others. This event is a great reminder to all of us that it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference in someone’s life.

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When I sent out my invites I had asked everyone to bring a small donation, an open heart and an empty stomach. Being on a tight budget myself I wanted to create a menu that was delicious, impressive but didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I also wanted to have enough left over to be able to donate some money to the charity as well. Below are two great, inexpensive, healthy, fresh, and delicious recipes that will wow your guests. These recipes are enough to serve 6-8 people for under $30, which is pretty darn good if you ask me! Some of the ingredients you might have in your pantry already, so you can be super resourceful:)
For my menu I decided to serve a Shaved Fennel, Caramelized Corn, and Summer Peach Salad and Shell Pasta with Broccoli Raab and Spicy Chicken Sausage.

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pasta broccoli raab

Both of these dishes can feed a crowd and hold really well, so if guests come and go you don’t have to worry about being in the kitchen the whole time.

If you can’t throw a party on Saturday, that’s totally okay! People are throwing their own Night of 1000 dinners all month long.

If you have any questions on how to throw your own party and for more information about Worldwide Orphans CLICK HERE. I encourage you to check it out. I promise the reward will be greater than you know!

Recipe

(serves 6)
  • 2 large bulbs fennel, shaved or sliced thin
  • 2 large ripe peaches, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups arugula
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  1. Heat a medium skillet on high heat. Cut kernels from corn cob. Add 2 tablespoons oil into the skillet and toss in corn kernels. Cook on high heat for about 3-4 minutes allowing the corn to get some color. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl add the shaved fennel, sliced peached, arugula, shaved parmesan, the cooled corn, olive oil, lemon, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest a good pinch of salt and lots of cracked pepper. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Gluten Free Shell Pasta with Broccoli Raab and Spicy Chicken Sausage

(serves 6)
  • 1 pound gluten free pasta shells (I used Tinkyada’s) you can also use regular orchiette pasta or shells
  • 1 1/2 pounds spicy chicken sausage, casing removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bunch broccoli raab, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a good amount of salt so the water tastes like the ocean. Cook pasta 2 minutes under what the package says for the cook time. Drain, but make sure to reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. If you are using a gluten free brown rice pasta, make sure to rinse the pasta well under cold water to remove all the starch. This will prevent the pasta from getting gummy. While the pasta is cooking:
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 cloves of garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, just until the edges start to slightly brown. Remove the garlic and discard. Add sausage into the skillet and using a wooden spoon break up the meat and cook for 8 minutes, or until the meat is brown and crispy.
  3. Add in the broccoli raab, and red chili flakes and cook for another 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the 1 cup of pasta water, scraping up all the brown bits off the bottom of pan. Add pasta into the skillet and toss to coat. Add in 1 cup of parmesan, the juice and zest of a lemon and mix until creamy.
  4. To serve, place pasta in a large bowl and top with a few good glugs of olive oil, more cheese, cracked black pepper, and red chili flakes.


Bacon and Tarragon Deviled Eggs

One of my favorite snack foods of all time are deviled eggs. I remember being a kid and being SO freaking excited when Easter rolled around because my mom would make the most delicious deviled eggs for our annual Easter bash. Kids and neighbors flocked to our home every Easter for a massive egg hunt and my mom’s killer spread of delicious food. After an afternoon of running around, frantically looking for eggs filled with candy and coins we most certainly worked up an appetite. When the food was I would dash over to the buffet and make sure I got in on the deviled egg action. I quickly shoveled 3 in my mouth before piling 4 more on my plate.